WILMINGTON -- One would have never thought three years ago that the Bruins could say nice things about the Vancouver Canucks or vice versa given the bad-blooded Stanley Cup Final played between the two teams.
There was finger-biting, and “Whack-A-Sedin” became the en vogue thing to do as the seven-game series between polar opposite teams developed into a brewing cauldron of hockey hatred.
But one rivalry that’s definitely disappeared is the one between the goaltenders as Tim Thomas is no longer stopping pucks for the Black and Gold. Bruins players can still laugh about “pumping the tires” of Roberto Luongo, but the truth is that the Canucks goaltender has earned plenty of respect within the Bruins dressing room since allowing 18 goals the four Cup Final losses to the B's and posting an .891 save percentage in the seven-game series.
“I think too many people point the finger too much on [Roberto] Luongo,” said Bruins power forward Milan Lucic. “I think he’s a great goaltender. He was still able to get them one win away from the ultimate goal. It shows what type of person he is, going through what he went through with how he was treated [in Vancouver] by everyone.
“He’s managed to keep his game at a high level, and he’s on the Olympic team. He’s still one of the best goaltenders in the league. It shows a lot about his character. I wish him all the best in Sochi. I’m Canadian, right? It’s the only time I’ll cheer for him.”
To Lucic’s point, Luongo was the goalie to survive the battle for the No. 1 spot with Cory Schneider when his understudy was shipped to the New Jersey Devils. A good deal of that move might have had to do with Luongo's unwieldy contract, but Luongo ranks a pretty solid 11th in the NHL with a 2.30 goals against average and a .920 save percentage while splitting time with Eddie Lack.
The Canucks netminder didn’t make the start two years ago when Vancouver returned to TD Garden for the first time since the Stanley Cup Final, but on Tuesday night he might finally get his chance to change some of the bad memories from his playoff performances in Boston.